An operating theater, also known as an operating theatre, operating room (OR) or operating suite, is a facility within a hospital where surgical operations are carried out in a sterile environment. Historically, the term “operating theatre” referred to a non-sterile, tiered theater or amphitheater in which students and other spectators could watch surgeons perform surgery.
The implementation of a universal surgical safety checklist protocol in 2004 was intended to minimize the prevalence of wrong site surgery (WSS). However, complete elimination of WSS in the operating room continues to be a challenge.
There is an urgent need in the acute health system to use resources as efficiently as possible. One such group of resources are operating theatres, which have an important impact on patient flow through a hospital. Data-driven insights into the use of operating theatres can suggest improvements to minimise wastage and improve theatre availability.
In a paper, a short extract of surgical data from participating Queensland public hospitals was statistically analysed to examine the effects of session type, session specialty, scheduling the longest case first and day of the week on theatre utilisation. It was found that day-long sessions (as opposed to separate morning or afternoon sessions), mid-week sessions, certain specialties (eg. neurosurgery sessions) and not doing the longest case first were most beneficial to theatre utilisation. Awareness of these findings is important in any redesign activity aimed at improving flow performance 1).